Many New York businesses have benefited from the EB-5 visa program. This federal immigration program allows foreign nationals an opportunity to apply for a green card after investing in qualified development projects. Unfortunately, not every project comes to fruition, and some investors have been the victims of EB-5 fraud.
Recently, approximately 180 foreign investors learned that one of their projects is headed for an auction after the business failed to be profitable. It was called the Lucky Dragon casino, but it has not experienced the type of luck that the developers and owners were trying to market. It was billed as being built specifically for Asian clientele, though some say the location of the resort contributed to its downfall. It had its grand opening in 2016, but by January of this year, most of the amenities — including the casino — were closed, leaving only the 203-room hotel open for customers.
Customers complained that the owners of the Las Vegas hotel charged a resort fee in spite of the fact that it lacks most of the amenities that similar businesses offer to their guests. In addition, when the casino was in operation, it purportedly offered only low-value comps, which often signals that a business is struggling financially. The resort is currently in bankruptcy and is scheduled to be auctioned at an assessed value of $143 million, which is considerably less than the $165 million it cost to build.
Whenever EB-5 funds are used for these types of projects, investors could be in jeopardy of losing their chance to apply for green cards should the projects fail. There haven’t been any allegations of fraud in the Lucky Dragon casino project; nevertheless, EB-5 investors may have concerns over their immigration statuses. According to the A Citizenship and Immigration Services representative noted that as long as the required employment positions are retained, then investors’ immigration statuses should be unaffected. In New York, anyone concerned that possible EB-5 fraud could jeopardize his or her status should consult with an experienced attorney who routinely handles these immigration issues.